On the Agenda: Whoever wins presidency; divided government likely to continue
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Rarely does a presidential incumbent and strong front-runner so dramatically squander both his advantage and momentum, but President Obama’s lackluster performance matched with Governor Romney’s articulate move to the center and dynamic but respectful offense in the first debate turned the race around.
Nationally, the race is a statistical tie and last week, Governor Romney appeared to be closing the gap in the six or seven battle ground states he must win.
But that’s only half the story. The second most important decision voters will make is which party controls the United States Senate.
The analyst most political professionals look to for clarity sorting through all the competing polling data is the New York Times’ Nate Silver.
Two months ago, Silver forecast the GOP had a 62 percent chance of taking control of the Senate. His forecast today? Republicans now have only a 16 percent chance of taking control.
Now don’t get me wrong. In Silver’s analysis, Democrats will lose seats, but not enough to lose control. And of course, in this environment, that could change at the drop of a hat.
Once upon a time Wall Street and most citizens applauded divided government figuring both their wallets and their liberty were in less peril when the two parties had to compromise.
Failure to compromise has rarely put Americans in great danger, but nearly defaulting the country last year changed all that. Many economists and investors believe continuing partisan intransigence will propel us over the fiscal cliff and into another grave recession putting even more strain on both jobs and the federal treasury.
Whether it is a President Obama or a President Romney, as of today the pivot points still look to be Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and Republican Speaker John Boehner. Both men have been hostages to their party caucuses.
We know roughly half the country will be elated the day after the election and half will be dejected.
But no matter who wins, any celebration will be short-lived unless the word “compromise” returns to the political lexicon.
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